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Council Advises Poll

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* See PN story online: http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/docs/news/usp24poll.html

By Reggie Dutt USP's Wansolwara reporter

SUVA: The University of the South Pacific has asked Vice-Chancellor Esekia Solofa to "advise" the USP Students Association to hold elections by the end of this semester.

Council sources told Wansolwara that it was believed the student administration was in breach of its own constitution by failing to hold elections.

Solofa was directed to advise the USPSA that it had two choices:

* Hold elections before the end of the semester, or

* Hold an annual general meeting to change the constitution. But this would need a two-thirds majority.

The sources said that if USPSA continued to violate its constitution, the university management could withhold recognition of the outgoing student leadership.

USP public relations officer Susannah Thackray told Wansolwara Solofa would keep advising the student body over the elections.

She said council was taking expert advice on the issues surrounding the postponed elections in view of the relationship between the university and the student association. [The university normally has no powers to intervene in student association affairs.]

Solofa earlier told Wansolwara that the move by the student council to defer the elections was "unconstitutional".

He said he was disappointed in the student council's decision.

The student council, represented by Jone Fifita of Fiji and Russell Thomas of the Cook Islands, at the USP council meeting last week, outlined two reasons for deferring the elections in their submission:

* "An element of division" among the Indian and Fijian students.

* Not all regional students had returned to Laucala campus.

The submission said the student council took into consideration the need for USPSA to "maintain its regional face" when deciding not to have elections.

It argued that interests of majority students did not count because the association was there for the minority as well.

Also it said that having elections would make the USPSA "guilty of a major sin" by "working against the very ideal of regional cooperation and unity". The submission maintained that the student council did not violate the student constitution at any time. Also, the decision to defer the elections was made according to its principles such as “moral and ethical responsibility to protect the interests and welfare of its members”.

+++niuswire


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